Retain older workers, bosses told

Geoff Pearman
Geoff Pearman
The workforce in Otago is getting older and the businesses targeting the growing demographic will prosper.

Partners in Change managing director Geoff Pearman, of Brisbane, who is to speak at the launch of the Otago Careers Festival in Dunedin on Monday, said people 65 years and older were staying in the workforce by choice and necessity.

''They are living longer, they want to stay at work ... and some financially need to.''

In 20 years, the number of people aged 65 years and older working in New Zealand was expected to double. In 2021, the age group was expected to be 9% of the workforce and then increase to 12% in 2031.

Employers needed to ensure they retained older staff, because declining birth rates would make sourcing staff more difficult in the future, he said.

There was no proof to the popular belief that older workers displaced youth from entering the workforce.

''It's the same argument as back in the 1960s, that said, if women participated in the workforce, it was going to displace men. It didn't happen.''

In fact, research revealed that businesses prospered with an older workforce.

Mr Pearman said Dunedin businesses needed to stopmarketing to younger consumers and ''tap into the huge boomer market''.

''The big market with the money is 55-plus.''

Otago Careers Festival steering group chairman Pete McBeth said the festival, in its sixth year, showcased many of the careers available in Otago.

''If you're interested in business, if you're an employer, a student, a jobseeker, a migrant, whatever, there is something at the festival to support and clarify your career aspirations.''

Making the greyed work

I doubt that 'old' workers don't take all staff entitlements available in a good employment contract. There is good reason employers are chary of taking on the old and experienced: the real possibility workers older than the boss might tell him/her how to run the business. In terms of equal economic distribution, the young unwaged should have first option, not people on superannuation, who at least have an unconditional income.

Young v Old

Employers are too quick to discount the older work force and go for the young, mainly because their wage expectations are lower so less cost to the busness.

However this is a double edged sword. Initially they cost less, but, once they are over the honeymoon period of new job, excitment to be earning money etc etc, they quickly realise how easy it is to use entitlement, sick days especially, the excuses for not coming to work are endless. This is where cost to the business escalates to a level where these younger employees become more expensive than an older equivilent, lost time equals money lost.

There are though some really good concientious young people who have some awesome work ethics - these though are rare, once you have them employers need to look after them.

In my experience the older members of the workforce are much more reliable, have stable lives which leads on to them being easier to manage and less costly in the long run.

After all in business it is all about the bottom line.


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